Modern Warfare’s single-player campaign focuses on realism and feature tactically-based moral choices whereupon the player is evaluated and assigned a score at the end of each level; players have to quickly ascertain whether NPCs are a threat or not, such as a civilian woman who is believed to be reaching for a gun, but then simply grabs her baby from a crib. This collateral damage score, referred to as a threat assessment, is based on how many civilians the player injures or kills and ranges from rank A to F. Rewards are introduced to those who score higher. Character dialogue will differ depending on the choices the player makes in the game. Tactical decisions are also included, such as the player using a sniper rifle in a large environment to approach objectives in a non-linear order, and choosing to shoot out lights in favor of using night-vision goggles during breaching and clearing.
The game’s multiplayer has been revised to allow for more tactical gameplay, including a focus on map exploration, door breaching, and a “Realism” mode that removes the HUD. The mini-map was initially removed in favor of a compass-style marker, with visual cues to detect friendlies and opponents. Following feedback from the multiplayer beta test, Infinity Ward re-implemented the mini-map but removed the appearance of red dots representing enemy players (except for when the UAV killstreak is used). Multiplayer also features the return of Killstreaks (rewards based on kills), with more recent Call of Duty titles having used Scorestreaks (rewards based on score) instead. Killstreaks can, however, be converted into Scorestreaks with the use of an in-game perk called “Pointman”. The online modes allow for a larger range of players within a map than previous installments, with a new mode called “Ground War” featuring over 100 players, while conversely another new mode, “Gunfight”, tasks two teams of two players against each other in small matches lasting forty seconds per round. The game includes an extensive weapons customization system, presenting most guns with a range of up to 60 attachments to choose from (five of which can be equipped at any one time). The introduction at the start of multiplayer matches has also been revamped; while in previous titles players would remain motionless on the map as a timer would countdown to zero, players will instead be transported into the battle zone as part of various animations.
Modern Warfare is the first game in the series since 2013’s Call of Duty: Ghosts not to feature a Zombies mode, instead featuring the cooperative “Special Ops” mode previously present in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3. Spec Ops shares its narrative with both the campaign and multiplayer. It includes a “Survival” mode, which is a timed exclusive to the PlayStation 4 release until October 2020. At launch, Special Ops features four Operations, which are multi-objective missions that take place in a large open map requiring mandatory 4-player cooperation; and Classic Special Ops, which features Safeguard, a survival-like mode returning from Call of Duty: Ghosts.
Prior to launch, Infinity Ward confirmed that Modern Warfare would not feature a battle royale mode at launch. Following multiple teasers and reports, on March 9, Activision and Infinity Ward revealed Warzone, a battle royale mode coming to Modern Warfare via an update, as well as its own free-to-play standalone game. The mode features 150 players, battling in teams of three, or “trios” (with an option to play as solo or duos) in a massive map as a toxic gas circle collapses and shrinks the playable area. The Warzone map, named Verdansk after the fictional location featured in the game’s various modes, combines several locations featured prominently in Multiplayer and Special Ops modes. Weapon balancing is maintained with parity to Multiplayer modes, except with higher headshot damage to reward aiming. Similar to other battle royale games, Warzone also features looting as a core aspect, but weapon customization is limited as players can only pick up weapon variants with preset, unchangeable attachments. Looting is also simplified compared to other battle royale games in general, and Call of Duty: Black Ops 4’s Blackout mode in particular: instead of browsing via an inventory, all loot items are placed on the ground for players to view and pick up. Players can use armor plates to increase damage protection, and can carry up to five armor plates to swap out and repair at any given point. Upon being defeated, instead of dying permanently, players are taken to the “Gulag”, a prison area where defeated players can compete in 1v1 scenarios and gain a second chance to get back in the main map. Players can also loot and stock up cash, which are used at buy stations to buy killstreaks, equipment and revive token for downed teammates. It also supports cross-platform play and cross-platform progression between both games.